Friday, September 26, 2008


I went to Nickelsville today to take Anitra some boiled peanuts and to check out a news report. I heard that Mayor Nickels was sending homeless activists to do shelter outreach at the same time that he was sending police to break Nickelsville up. I wondered what homeless activists would want to circulate among 150 homeless people and try to tell them all that the meager extra shelter beds that the city has coughed up to justify the sweeps would suffice for all of them.

I found them; they were not really what I would call homeless activists. Social workers in the employ of the Department of Social Services are that: they are social workers. They do social work. They do not necessarily qualify as activists. When I asked one what they were saying to the campers, she told me that they were offering referrals.

So that's how they deal with the cognitive dissonance. They don't actually tell everybody that there is shelter for everyone. They tell each one, one at a time, you call this number on this card, and they can fix you up. They don't ever have to contemplate what would happen if everyone they talked to called the number on the card. Like I say, they aren't activists. Activists would think of that.

Meanwhile I took a bunch of pictures, and some videos. I'll try to post the videos later if they're any good. Here's a few of the still pictures.

When I first arrived I had to find Anitra, of course. She, in turn had to show me her precious pink tent.

Then I ran into some of the other usual suspects, like Joe Martin and friend Hap, and real Change Director Tim Harris, who I got to pose in front of the main area of tents.

Next, I asked just the tents to pose. I didn't photoshop this shot at all. That's how pink they are.

A Freedom Socialist wandered in with a nice sign that met with approval from the crowd.

Since yesterday, and right up to the police eviction today, some permanent structures were being built. Here Anitra is posing with Aaron in front of his pink sheltered pink shelter.

One of the No Trespassing signs the city installed three days ago was lying on the ground when I got there.

Then, the police arrived. There were "negotiations." Anitra took the task of relaying what the police offered to the rest of the "Nickelodeons." It basically boiled down to: if you want to be arrested stick around. If you don't want to be arrested go away.

As it happens, by the time the police came back to conduct the arrests, Nickelsville has word from the governor through her senior aide Ron Judd, that they could set up tents on a nearby parking lot , on state land, safe from Seattle police, at least for a few days. So that may have led some who had planned to let themselves be arrested change their minds. But still 22 people chose to be arrested. By the time I got this shot of the police peacefully, slowly, nudging the crowd back while making arrests, Anitra was already in a police van.

Maybe the last one to be arrested was our Real Change vendor Jewd. She was really into it. I think she ought to be the Nickelsville poster girl.

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